Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

Corsair H90 and H110 Hydro Liquid CPU Cooler Review

Corsair, once known only for quality enthusiast RAM modules, has successfully diversified its products reaching into cases, power supplies, processor cooling solutions. With the release of the H90 and H110 Hydro Series, we see the first new refresh in its closed loop liquid cooling systems.

Introduction

The past few years has seen a bunch of big changes when it came to our PCs. We had the usual more powerful CPUs, more powerful graphics cards, and larger capacity power supplies. Even the computer cases we use have evolved. These new cases can now support 140mm fans, more HDDs, etc. So it was odd to me that the latest Hydro coolers from Corsair were still using the smaller 120mm radiators and fans. Don’t get us wrong, we found the H80i and H100i to be superb coolers.

Larger fans are better cooling solutions due to those being able to push more air at slower rotating speeds. These larger fans give us quieter operation without sacrificing performance. Larger radiators are better too, due to the larger surface area dissipating heat more efficiently. The only thing left was for Corsair to put all the pieces together.

Introducing the Corsair Hydro Seriesآ™ H90 140mm High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler and Corsair Hydro Seriesآ™ H110 280mm Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler. These new Hydro units incorporate the same improved tubing we saw on the H80i and H100i but with a twist. These now use larger 140mm and 280mm radiators with larger 140mm fans. This gives us less noise, more airflow, and improved tubing. Does this all translate into improved cooling systems? Let’s find out.

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System Setup

Today's review utilizes our third generation [H]ard platform. The test bed consists of the ASUS P8Z77-V motherboard, eight gigabytes of Corsair 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM and the Intel Core i7 3770K.

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Test Methods

CPU

The biggest change you will notice is the removal of hardware testing. In recent years, Intel has shifted their methods of testing to software based and so we find it acceptable to do the same.

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GPU

For the first time, we have an integrated GPU in our processor which alleviates the need for a discrete one. With the removal of a discrete GPU comes the advantage of not having an additional variable to account for.

The iGPU will not create any anomalies in our testing as long as we practice consistent testing methods.

Case

Corsair was kind enough to provide us with their Carbide series chassis. It provides excellent airflow and interior space and is a good reflection on current case design.

Thermal Paste

Noctua's NT-H1 thermal paste was selected as the paste of choice for a few key reasons. The thermal paste has been shown to provide excellent thermal conductivity allowing the heat sinks to better do their job. There is no observed curing time. That is, performance does not get any better over time. Any curing time could have introduced variables into the equation causing at best dubious results and at worst unreliable ones.

Temperatures

Ambient temperature will be kept at 25C for the duration of the tests and measured with a MicroTemp EXP non-contact infrared thermometer and cross referenced with the Sperry Digital 4 Point thermometer. Any variance greater then 0.2C will halt the testing until temperatures return within spec for fifteen minutes.

Idle

Idle temperatures will be recorded after a twenty-five minute period of inactivity. Any fluctuation during the last sixty seconds will reset the timer for an additional five minutes.

Load

Load temperatures will be recorded after a twenty-five minute period of 100% load. To obtain this load we will be using Prime95 v27.7 set to in-place large FFTs mode. In this way we can place the maximum amount of heat into the CPU. Any fluctuation during the last sixty seconds will reset the timer for an additional five minutes.

Sound

Sound levels will be measured with a Reliability Direct AR824 sound meter from a distance of four feet away. With everything turned off and the room completely silent the meter registered a sound level of 38dB(A). This is a very quiet room where a simple pin drop could be heard. All sound measurements are recorded in the very late evening to further reduce any ambient noise.